Renowned Spanish chef Santi Santamaria died Wednesday in Singapore, apparently from a heart attack.
The chef collapsed from a suspected heart attack while welcoming food critics to the kitchen of his newest establishment – named Santi – at the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore.
Tributes poured in from the world’s most renowned chefs lamenting the loss of “a legend” who championed Catalan cuisine and brought it international attention.
A self taught chef, who since 1994 has held three Michelin stars for El Raco de Can Fabes, the restaurant he founded at his family home north of Barcelona, was considered a leading ambassador of Catalan cuisine.
He teamed traditional Catalan recipes with French nouvelle cuisine insisting on the importance of locally sourced fresh produce.
A outspoken traditionalist Santi Santamaria is also known from his feud with the other big name of haute cuisine , Ferran Adria over the use of hydrocolloids in kitchens .
That discomfort first rose to the surface at the 2007 edition of Madrid Fusion, an international chefs conference. Speaking earthy truth to gastronomic power, Santamaria used his presentation to lambast his audience for “snobbery” and reminded them that “all good meals end with a good shit.”
But it was in 2008 that he really provoked a scandal. Receiving a prize in May for his new book, The Kitchen Laid Bare, Santamaria took the opportunity to criticize fellow chefs for “legitimating forms of cooking that distance them from the traditional.”
Calling on Spain’s health minister, who was seated in the audience, to protect the unknowing public against the use of the additives sometimes used in haute cuisine to achieve spectacular effects, he railed against “cooking with chemicals like methylcellulose whose consumption could be dangerous.”
And in case anyone missed the reference to elBulli’s famous chef, he named names. “I have an enormous conceptual and ethical divorce with Ferran; he and his team are going in a direction contrary to my principles.”
Santamaria was the first Catalan chef to be awarded three stars in the Michelin Guide.His legacy is his passion to cook.
In the past few years we have seen a revolution in the way food and science have joined forces to elavate food, transform it and create food that is better in all aspects.As chefs we have grown up in a world riddled with tradition and the notion that thats the way “things” have always been done in the past. The need to unveil the truths and mistakes of the past was not more important than the food itself , rather it had a place next to scientific reasoning.And that has escalated into a most dramatic effect, where suddenly more and more chefs are more interested to create and innovate using the experimentation process but also by applying facts and science rather than culinary tradition…
It is very important to understand how much the world of food has evolved in the past 10- 15 years with chefs like Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal , Rene Redzepi, Wyllie Dufrense , Grant Achatz ,Pascal Barbot,Joan Roca, Arzak, Pierre Gagnaire and excuse me if i left a lot others out but this list meant to represent how food is changing rapidly from a “comfort” experience to a more intellectual venture, an experience in a whole where the food takes center stage at restaurant tables everywhere.
In this very important times for the food world , a book designed to put things in order is coming out soon called “The Modernist Cuisine”. I believe that this will have a very definite effect in the appreciation of food and the science that creates it as it will put one and for all some of the things in place , and create a reference point for chefs to discover a true understanding of the craft as it applies to modern methodology to create food in ways that are truly functional and respect the integrity of the ingredients..
Modernist cuisine is the effort of a team of chefs and inventors DR. Nathan Myhrvold , Chris Young , Maxime Bilet and a team of 20 dedicated individuals , that have spend a lot of time preparing,experimenting, investigating, recording, organizing,categorizing and compiling the massive ,6 volume, 2400 page in total book that is now on pre order on most major retailers . Despite the significant cost of the book the book itself seems to be a very valuable addition in a reference library and will prove to be a very important milestone in recording and organizing the evolution process of culinary arts..
If you are considering a further understanding of the underlying principles of cooking, then i believe this book will have a major influence in shaping and strengthening such understanding… Only small bump might be the 461 dollar price tag it comes with right now …
Here’s a few interesting Links….
If you have never heard the name Sean Brock make a special note on your agenda , do a little research and plan a trip to Charleston to meet one of the most influential chefs of the country and eat in one of the best restaurants in the States ………Mc Cradys Should be on top of the list if you are in the area….Sean and team will live you speechless……
More posts to come from a week of Food at its best…..